Month: January 2009

Fly Trap

My boyfriend once said “you can catch more flies with honey than you can with Dugaldo.” This just after he had scored us a discount on the Body Worlds exhibit at the Arizona Science Center. By simply being nice to the girl at the counter and smiling, he successfully deflected the arched eyebrows, cocked neck and folded arms I had ready to demand a discount we didn’t deserve. She must have mistaken his dimples for college I.D.s because we got in at the student price. It just isn’t fair, while I have to use wit and trickery my boyfriend needs only to smile. And his good looks get him things he doesn’t even ask for. Like this morning after a twelve hour drive home from San Francisco, I got my tired ass up to get him some coffee, well ok I wanted some too. 

Now what you are about to read may shock and offend all six of you, but the truth needs to be known and if at all possible my reputation redeemed with some explanation. Yes, I went into a Starbucks drive-through this morning and have been periodically indulging in the practice for some months now. Its been a long time since I left the siren behind both as a loyal barista and even longer as a consumer. Now I am an avid supporter of the local mom and pop places and they will forever be my dealers of choice. After a while though, you find yourself needing a break from the kitch and true passion for coffee that comes with a locally owned coffee bar. And that’s when the green monster lures you back with conformity, convenience and cute baristas that flirt with you because it says to in the training manual. And for me there is something about having the dirty little secret of coming back, like hooking up with an ex, that makes my mochas taste almost… good.
Today while braving the perils of the drive-through line, I found myself trying to enter in through the wrong way, a problem I’m not to familiar with. While awkwardly trying to reposition myself before other vehicles took my spot, another car took my spot, well almost. The woman driving it noticed what I was doing and let me in. But soon after more and more cars piled up behind me and if I didn’t let her in she’d never get a chance, not to mention she would have been in a lot of people’s way. So I proceeded to let her in. Then I noticed she had a Texas license plate and immediately regretted my decision. But in the spirit of reaching across party lines I allowed myself to feel that I’d done the right thing. After about a 10 minute wait, she finally got to the counter to pay and I almost felt that she’d made eye contact with me through the side view mirror. She was pretty, with big brown hair and diva eyes and in that short moment of connection I realized I could really go for a cookie. Mmm… chocolate chip. The next moment she had her drink in the car and  was gone.
As I pulled up to the window, the barista asked “grande mocha and iced grande latte?” Yeah. “The lady in front of you says thank you, and she payed for your drinks!”
Cool. I totally didn’t want to break my ten either. I hate when boyfriend is right. 
Sometimes. Maybe honey really is sweeter.

Thanks a Latte

I’ve just come back from my favorite little Excelsior coffee shop, Mama Art Cafe, a cute place just three blocks away from Club Lisbon where I used to live with Xinthia, that I would escape to often. When I walked in I saw the Mama whom I’m pretty sure the cafe is named after, if not then it is named after her mama. She said hello with a pleasant but tired smile. And I grinned big hoping she might remember me. She didn’t. So I asked how she was doing, and thought I might have seen a little flicker of recognition glimmering behind a slight twitch in her eye. That was good enough for me. 

I ordered “Can I have a mocha with whipped cream please.”
“Which size?”
“With whipped cream.” I stammered “Uh I mean medium.” Hey I like my whipped cream.
I gave her the 3.75 it cost and waited patiently just reveling in the nostalgia that seemed to breath from the yellow and green walls of the cafe. I checked out their little library which had significantly shrunk since the last time I’d been there. This is a good thing thought because it serves as a community fund raiser. I picked up Cuentos de Eva Luna by Isabel Allende and took a seat on couch I used to sit and read in, even though it no longer faced the window. After reading and rereading the first paragraph for five minutes I heard “your mocha is ready.”
I walked up to the counter and she handed me the mocha, sans whipped cream. Should I say anything? Damn I really want that whipped cream. “uh… can I have some whipped cream?”
“Oh jeese I forgot” she said and yanked the mocha back, pouring some of it into the steaming pitcher it came from, to which I gulped in fear that I may not get to enjoy those few ounces of chocolatey espresso goodness. She topped the drink off with whipped cream and then poured the rest into a mug for me to enjoy, giving me a warm smile to send me on my way. 
I sat down again to enjoy my mocha, struggled through a little more of Allende’s exquisite but entirely Spanish prose and people watched before I decided to get up and order the iced latte I promised to bring back the boyfriend. So I went back up to the counter, book in hand and said “Can I get a medium iced latte? And I’d like to by this book.”
“Oh yes” she responds “Can you check for me, how much is the book?”
I checked the back for a price “Six dollars.” Damn I was thinking it was going to be like three.
I gave her a ten to cover the latte and the book. She gave me six fifty back. I smile sheepishly and say “Uh… I’d like to by the book too.” 
“Ay… I forgot.” She puts her hands on her head and grabbed the book back with the other, thinking for a second before she took six dollars out of the change she handed me. We both laugh a little, and than I stand around a moment, before I ask for the book back, to which she responds “Yes, its yours.”
I sat down again finally accomplish finishing the first page of the book when I hear “Your latte is ready.”
Cool. I walked up to the counter and see her scooping a dollop of thick white foam on to the steaming latte. Damn. “Umm…” I was almost embarrassed to go on but I did. “I asked for an iced latte.”
She smiles as she puts the lid on for me. “Yes. It is a nice latte.”

How Very Transcendental

I was recently asked to write some bios for a website. Just two, of friends mind you. The website will document a journey they’ll be embarking on in just a few months. But man for something so simple I’m having a little trouble with the task. I’m jotting down lines in my journal like an advertising exec jots down slogans the night before a big meeting with a client. Yeah like in the movies, all pensive and frustrated ripping sheets out of a note book and throwing them at a waste basket surrounded by other crisp, freshly crumpled wads of paper (although I’m a little greener then that motion picture cliche). Writing someone else’s bio, especially when affixed to a dream that is entirely their own, just doesn’t come as easily as say, lamenting about it on your blog. I’m not saying I’m not up to the challenge, I’m excited about it and the ideas are electric in my brain, its the actual writing that is static for me right now. For now. 
So in an attempt to say, clear my head, I’ve tried to put myself in the head of these two guys, as characters or something with internal conflicts to be resolved and what not, you know the drill. 
This is what I came up with:

When you were a kid sitting in the back seat of your parent’s car did you ever watch the sun flicker in between the trees as you passed by orchards? One second there’d be sunlight, bright and promising and the next there would be shadow, dark and cool. And as the car sped by all you’d see was quick and crackling light, fast and rhythmic, capturing your mind’s eye in some flash animation of somewhere other than the confines of a six seater vehicle on a Sunday afternoon. But that little light show, though all your own, was really just born of an arbitrary meeting of the law-abiding velocity of your parent’s car, a systemic grid of intentionally planted trees and of course your little imagination. And before you knew it you’d zip past the last tree in the orchard, the light show would stop and you were 30 years old and instead of the back seat of your parent’s car, you were stuck in the driver’s seat of your own still looking for someone else’s optical illusion to get you through the drive.

Well, what if one day you just pulled over, hoped the fence and walked through that orchard, or sat for a while in the shade of a tree, or dare I say it picked a fruit off the damn thing and took a bite? 
Or what if one day, rather than driving by you rode your bike, and instead of  leering to your right for one more show, you just kept riding, left everything being and never returned.

Ok… Now back to those bios.